By Joel Muhs
Staff writer

The great outdoors plays host to many activities, and sports are near the top of the list. Sports like baseball, softball, soccer and football are all enjoyed in the fresh air. However, those sports are dampened – sometimes literally – when Mother Nature decides to act up

There is no other sport that is affected more by Mother Nature than golf.

Much like other outdoor sports, golf is something that can be taken inside if need be but can be challenging to do so. Any type of weather can affect the game of golf and, being in Kansas, anything is expected. Wind, rain, snow, cold, and heat are all various weather climates that feel like can be experienced in Kansas within a matter of hours, but the Hutchinson Community College golf team is learning to adapt to the weather, especially over the last month.

“We are going to play in those situations, so we try to be outside as much as we can,” HutchCC golf coach Chris Young said, referring to the extreme cold and rainy days over the past month. “It’s kind of a mental toughness type thing and you can’t control the weather, so chances are you’re going to have to play in those types of conditions at some point in the year.”

Both Young and freshman Ben Partridge noted the usefulness of Prairie Dunes Country Club’s indoor facilities when the Blue Dragons can’t get onto the course.

“We have a facility at Prairie Dunes where we can hit golf balls inside. That allows us to keep swinging if we can’t go on the course,” Partridge said.

“We get to use the indoor facility out at Prairie Dunes and they got two simulators in there, which is a helpful deal,” Young said.

The relentless Kansas weather isn’t the only thing the golf team, ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA, has battled, as the Blue Dragons have also had their fair share of struggles with COVID-19 from last season to this one.

“In the tournaments we play, I feel that playing with the team in five balls has probably been the toughest part,” sophomore Charlie Crockett said when asked about the toughest part while dealing with COVID. “It’s something that we as a team are still learning to handle, and for me personally it’s a real test of patience, considering our rounds are now taking over five hours to play.”

For Partridge, it isn’t issues on the golf course but issues with availability to the HutchCC campus gym and weight room to help stay in shape during the season.

“The hardest part is that we can’t go to the gym at the college, as every other team in there can, as we’re a small team and we get looked over,” Partridge said. “Personally, I’ve had to get a membership off campus, which isn’t a problem, but it’s annoying we can’t use our own facilities.”

Even with all of the obstacles that both the weather and COVID have presented, the golf team has put together a historic season, which resulted in a No. 1 ranking at the end of the fall semester.

“First semester I was very pleased. We ended fall semester ranked No. 1 in the country and that was the first time that ever happened,” Young said. “This year I think we’re a good enough team that if we fall behind 10 to 12 shots going into the last round, we’re one of the teams in the nation that can shoot an 18 to 20 under round and comeback and win.”

COVID-19 and the weather have thrown everybody for a loop no matter what the circumstance may be. Those two things have toyed and messed with many routines, especially in recent memory. Even though the Blue Dragon golf team has found success in the midst of the storm, Crockett may have put it best. “We are at the mercy of Mother Nature,” Crockett said.

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